Ill. Bill Would Study Hemp as Alternative Crop

Ill. Bill Would Study Hemp as Alternative Crop
Posted by FoM on January 10, 2001 at 10:38:42 PT
By Kevin McDermott, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Source: Knoxville News-Sentinel
The Illinois Legislature has approved a study of industrial hemp as a possible crop for Illinois farmers, putting the state's most controversial agriculture issue on Gov. George Ryan's desk. Critics of the measure worry it will provide fodder for drug-culture advocates who view it as a first step to public acceptance of recreational marijuana. 
Hemp is a biological cousin of marijuana and contains the same hallucinogen - tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC - though in smaller amounts. Under the measure, Southern Illinois University's main campus in Carbondale and the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana would grow hemp under controlled conditions to study its economic potential. Hemp is used in much of world to make rope, textiles and other materials, but cannot be grown legally in most of the United States. Proponents say the hemp study could provide a profitable alternative crop for Illinois farmers struggling with low corn and soybean prices. The House approved the study by a 67-47 vote. The Senate had passed the measure. Ryan has not taken a position on the bill. If he signs it, the Legislature still would have to come up with funding for the study, estimated to cost between $800,000 and $1 million. Much of that money would be for barbed-wire fences and other security measures around the plots of hemp grown by the universities. State Sen. Evelyn Bowles, D-Edwardsville, who is the bill's top proponent in the Legislature, shook hands on the House floor while wearing a beige turtleneck sweater made from hemp. "It's warm, it's nice, it's very comfortable," said Bowles, who has spent more than a year trying to get the study approved. "I have all kinds of hemp products that go from paper to hair products to lotions to cooking oil." Though hemp cannot be grown legally in Illinois, hemp clothing and other products can be imported and sold here. Bowles - who said she bought the sweater from a Chicago hemp-products mail-order business - said that market could provide the economic boon that Illinois farmers are looking for. The Illinois Drug Education Alliance, an anti-drug citizens' group, fought to prevent passage of the bill, with the help of state and federal law enforcement officials who also oppose it. Source: Knoxville News-Sentinel (TN) Author: Kevin McDermott, St. Louis Post-DispatchAddress: PO Box 59038, Knoxville, TN 37950-9038 Published: January 10, 2001Copyright: 2001 The Knoxville News-Sentinel Co. Contact:  letters Website: Forum: Related Articles:Hemp Bill Clears One Test Vote To Study Hemp's Uses
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